Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Space War 2017: US v. China 428

A reader writes "The Air Force recently performed a war game set in the year 2017 featuring space warfare, according to this article in the Washington Post. Between hypothetical 'red' and 'blue' countries, which the article conjectures to be China and US, "...the game assumed that the heavens will be full of weapons by 2017. Both Red and Blue possessed microsatellites that can maneuver against other satellites, blocking their view, jamming their transmissions or even frying their electronics with radiation. Both also had ground-based lasers that could temporarily dazzle or permanently blind the optics of satellites.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Space War 2017: US v. China

Comments Filter:
  • NO, no, no. I do not characterize other nations as "phoney baloney". If you'd seen Blazing Saddles, you'd get the reference.

    My comment was to the effect that politics exists to serve the people in such a manner as to keep the regime in power, thats all. American politics, Chinese politics, Sri Lankan politics. Doesn't matter.
  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Monday January 29, 2001 @04:16PM (#471616) Homepage
    A national missile defense system WOULD work, however. They may send 'fake' missiles for us to shoot down, but at least the system is in place in case of a surprise attack or an unprovoked attack.

    Well, despite over a decade of trying they have yet to come up with one that can shoot down a non-surprise attack by a single missile that doesn't use anything much in the way of decoys, countermeasures, etc. That makes me question whether or not it would really work.

    It's only intent was to defend against rogue states or terrorists.

    Yeah, like a rogue state or terrorist would actually use a missile. They'd just smuggle the the bomb into the country and plant it near their target. It's not as though doing so would be very difficult at all, and all that trillion dollar technology will prove completely useless. It's a total boondoggle.

  • by blazer1024 ( 72405 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:01PM (#471621)
    Okay, here's where "Peace by having no weapons" is a bad idea.

    It is generally human nature to be greedy. Especially for those in power. (Why would they try to gain power if they didn't WANT power? Not many people try to gain power for the better good. Those who want power badly are usually the ones who receive it.) Once they have power, they want more. When you are in charge of a big country, the only way to gain more power is to conquer other countries so that you can control their resources.

    The nice guys say "Look, we're nice, we will destroy all of our weapons, so that we can not hurt you. You do the same, and we can all live in harmony." They have the best of intentions, and really want peace. The not-so-nice guys agree at first, so that you will destroy all of your weapons. However, while the not-so-nice-guys are playing nice, they are hiding all sorts of weapons in some secret bunkers, where no sattelite could find them. Once the nice guys weapons are gone, not-so-nice guys say, "Actually, we were kidding. Now you have no weapons, but we do. So, unless you feel like dying, you will submit to us."

    Just because you or your country has good intentions, that does *not* mean that other nations do! Never let your guard down when it comes to international affairs! Not unless you want the U.S. to become a socialist state.

    I may not really like the system here, but it's better than standing in line for hours for a loaf of bread. A nice, happy global society sounds like a good idea, but until there are NO evil people in the world, it will not work. I'm sorry to dissapoint you.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:09PM (#471625) Journal

    Even without satellites intentionally blowing up, debris is already a problem. One good space battle, and the Earth will have a junk layer too thick to navigate. Then you can kiss all space travel good-bye until they figure out a way to clean it up. Maybe somebody will figure out a way to deorbit massive ammounts of junk all at once. The first idea that comes to mind is releasing enough gas in orbit to slow down the junk, but maybe that isn't practical. At any rate, if they factor debris into this I bet they will determine that it isn't worth destroying this particular battlefield.

  • In the Old Testament of the Bible, there is a story about how the Israelites went into Palestine, and God commanded them to go attack a certain village, and kill every last man, take the women as slaves, etc.

    This is a lesson - because it sounds just horrible, expecially when you take into account that a few years earlier, the 10 commandments (Thou shalt not kill) were given. But if you think about it, it's a lesson. Really, that's the only way to defeat an opponent. Thorough genocide. If you let ONE of them live, chances are, they'll breed, and tell their kids about what happened, and generations later, you have an enemy that really hates you - and another war. Or nowadays, even if you kill them all, chances are, there's members of that ethnic group in another country you can't get to, so in order to do a thorough job, you basically have to take over the world.

    This is the lesson of WWI->WWII, which was really one extended long war, if you think about it. We (US/Allies) tried to apply that lesson to Iraq, and have met with limited success. But when it comes down to it, the only other alternative is genocide. And who wants that? Um, the bad guys? You wanna be a bad guy? Or maybe it would be best to just live in peace.

    What that means for the Jews, and whether they *belong* in Palestine/Israel, I have no idea, I don't want to get into that here - but to me, when I read that Bible story, that is what I learned: Violent conflict, is ultimately futile, unless you're willing to walk down the genocide path. And the genocide path is no good either. So maybe it's best to just try to learn alternative methods of conflict resolution.
  • maybe they only sell the cheap plastic garbage to us sucker Americans and keep the "good stuff" for themselves?

  • naw, increased morale is cheap.

    Give them shore-leave in San Francisco, and $100 of GI money. Blowjobs=morale.
  • Sending the inexperienced underequipped troops as a first wave is also an excellent tactic against landmines. So Iran proved in it's war vs. Iraq. It's why Iraq resorted to chemical warfare, to stop Iran from sending waves of children across the battlefield to sweep mines out for the real troops to follow.
  • I will tell you something: For the last 4,000 years, Chinese soldiers have never fought more than 100 miles outside of China's current borders.

    In the past 200 years, however, American soldiers have fought on every continent except Australia.

    Which country is the aggressive one?
  • Um, who exactly believes that "User #508" is a troll account?

    And what made that message a troll anyway? Paragraph 1, which was mostly correct and preceded with "I'll bet"? Or paragraph 2, which was right on the money?
  • by crlf ( 131465 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:07PM (#471641)
    I honestly don't see this type of war for the future of mankind. Without trying to sound morbid, the whole point of war is _not_ to blow up your enemies' toys, but to kill the opposing legion's fighters.
  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:15PM (#471646)
    The missile defense system first championed by Ronald Reagan is not a bad idea. There's just one problem: it's not possible. The arguments you hear for it or against it revolve around the question of treaties. Software, as we know it, is just not reliable enough to run this stuff. Identifying and tracking missiles in flight - hundreds or perhaps even thousands at once - is beyond what we know software can do. The treaty problem is a red herring, if you ask me.

    A crash program to develop and implement a missile defense system, a Star Wars system, is destined to become a prime example of wasteful government spending and corporate welfare. Sure, the studies and research that will be done will conclude it is possible, but only because that's the conclusion that they will be mandated to achieve (see "Carnivore review team"). Huge profits will be made by firms that get the contracts. You can build all the lasers and pulse cannons and boosters and kinetic energy warheads you want. But if you don't have the software to run them all together with 100% reliability and safety then all those other things mean NOTHING. If it were practical I'd be behind the idea. It's not.

    Another thing in the article I found amusing was the "information warfare" aspect. Come on, does anyone seriously think key military command and control computers are going to be vulnerable to state-sponsored script kiddies, for God's sake? What worries me more than battles in space is the absolute clulessness of our elected officials and the gullible nature of the population at large who will be hoodwinked into thinking that these things are even possible. Should we be concerned abuout protecting our assets in space? Yes, absolutely. Should we study these things? Yes, absolutely. But we shouldn't devote huge resources to a pie-in-the-sky project that will never work.
  • by fnordboy ( 206021 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:15PM (#471649)

    where Bart and Lisa go to military school. The commandant's closing address is:

    "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you."


  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:10PM (#471651)
    This sounds a bit like some DARPA simulations I've seen performed before. Much of this stuff I see is pretty much like basic science, a lot of theology and a little applicability. The models of the future are so wrong that it would be impossible to even get the technology correct, one of the assumptions of the model. Does that make the simulation uninteresting? No, it can help guide current weapons development to lead us away from situations that are expensive and unfruitful.


  • High-altitude burst is definately optimal.

    but a ground burst sure does something too.
  • Oh, at the root of it all, it's still an ethnic and territorial squabble - but the most powerful economic player in the world today, (that's US), has seen that it's a lot more convenient to fight an economic war of global domination, than one of guns. It could WIN the war of guns, but there'd be no world left to dominante. So it fights little teacup wars like Desert Storm - to keep Oil interests dilute, keep OPEC divided, keep Oil prices down, because cheap oil means a strong US economy, which means that the US can continue to dominate the world economy, dictate economic terms, and basically, rule all.

    Yes, you're right, war has changed from shooting to economic, but economic warfare is simply another means to the same end; cultural imperialism. And don't go blaming religion or religious preferences. God is, and always has been, a convenient excuse for people to go to war against someone who doesn't worship that God, or maybe disagrees on the exact rituals and rules of how you should worship that God.

    I guarantee - that when (not IF) the entire world is united (by force, economic force, most likely) under a single religion, language, cell-phone-standard, etc. people will try to find other reasons to fight.
  • hm - Waco?
  • I think Lockheed is also under investigation for fudging early test results. This was intended to be nothing more than a huge defense contractor pork barrel boondoggle. How convenient for Lockheed that the bad guys have nuclear missiles. Let's just make some campaign contributions here, have the politicians get nervous there. . . etc. repeat as necessary.
  • Come on, the first fucking man made object in space was a weapon. Sputik was propaganda, an international psychological weapon, boosted into orbit by an ICBM.

    This is a game of survival of the fittest, on a cultural and ideological level. Perhaps it seems that the US cultural meme is paranoid, agressive, etc. But look how far Microsoft has come with that same mind-set. Peace is a nice idea - but as long as humans rely on resources for survival, we'll be playing that Darwinian game, because basically, we're all still animals, whether we accept it or not.
  • , be pissed at all the people who didn't vote in the last election and thus gave us W for a president.

    I think that would actually be the five people who did vote to give us Dubya as prez-duh-dent. As for the rest of us, the majority voted for the other guy.

  • and Antarctica?
  • Except that's not really feasible except over someplace without any electrical equipment whatsoever...because even a small atom bomb will create an EM pulse capable of taking out the electronics below it.

    The idea is to intercept the ICBM somewhere off the coast of North America. That way, the EM pulse won't screw us up, and any radioactive debris will fall into the ocean. Not good, but a hell of a lot better than having 30 million people get nuked.
  • Just as an aside, I believe there are more Native Americans alive today than there were before Columbus arrived in North America.

    I'm certainly not excusing all the past crimes of the US. The US has done some pretty scary things, too, although I tend to think they're currently nowhere near as bad as China.

    Of course, I don't live in the US.
  • A few likely scenarios are as follows:

    1. China sends over Red Army in civvies on local boats, with hidden explosives and other weaponry. Result: Taiwan is now a Chinese province.

    2. US invests in ABM - after 20 years of investment, still has only 90 percent kill ratio against a missile not using countermeasures. Against countermeasure missiles, best result is 30 percent. San Francisco glows in the dark ...

    3. US continues to rely on Internet and GPS and satellite networks. China or Japan or Germany or France gets mad at us, uses "space junk" satellites to take out our network and cyber army to hack our networks with DOS sleeper attacks. US falls apart, whole world glows in dark.

    4. Space aliens show up, turn off all networks. Bush used as chew toy by alien subcommander. Waste for military expenditures drops dramatically, economy grows at rapid pace and all world problems solved. Well, except for the AIDS virus, which kills off the space aliens, but now we have cheap colonies in the galaxy.

  • "100 years from now (sooner I hope, but hey..), a space colony decides it no longer wants to have anything to do with ole Mother Earth any longer. They cease to pay taxes, 'nationalize' any local holdings of earth-based corporations, and generally declare themselves a new entity.

    Do ya think we're just going to let them go?"

    You're british aren't you.

  • but it is the most determined, the most suicidal of the two that will win, just as in real life.

    This is sometimes the case, but definitly not always the case. Look for instance at the United States versus Japan, while it could be argued (and I know it will be) that we were more suicidal than Japan was, I would have to bring up the fact of the Kamakzi fighters and the manned torpedos and then hope that would count them as a bit more suicidal than we were. We defeated them, though it took a whole lot of effort to do so.

    No matter how fanatical an untrained and unarmed person is, he is not going to be able to defeat a fully armed and trained army, that's just preposterous.

  • Consider the 'cold war'. Relative to the number of people who could have died, the number of actual deaths (including associated wars like Vietnam), is actually relatively low. As the computer in the movie "Wargames" said (to the cheers of the audience):
    It seems that the only way to win is not to play at all.
    A sentiment echoed in the 'Art of War' quote posted earlier.
  • Actually, isn't our official policy that the Mainland is a bunch of rogue provinces?

    And if we have to go to war, I'd rather we went as a heavily armed paranoid superpower. What is the the better alternative?
  • While an interesting read, the Washington Post journalist writing this story seemed so boondogled by the hype issued by the Air Force that he lacked almost any level of critical assessment.

    The article gives the WWII war in the Pacific as a prototypical "success" of wargaming. Yet it failed to point out that the largest engagement of the US military in the Cold War era -- Vietnam -- took the US military by shock. No one would have anticipated that a dedicated group of guerilla resistance fighters in a small Southeast Asian country, facing against up the US, with its superior firepower and complete dominance of the sky, could have kicked the pants off the US military and sent them scrambling back home with their tails between their legs.

    The implicit assumption of the whole 'Space Wargame' concept is that space warfare will play a critical role in the next big US conflict, necessarily against another space-faring nation (almost certainly China or Russia). Yet the history of the Cold War has taught us that the most serious threats do not come from the other superpowers, but from the small guy. It was true for the US in Vietnam, and true for Russia in Afghanastan. Each of the large projects mentioned (missile defense, space plane, earth-based satellite defenses) will cost astronomical sums of money to develop. Yet their use in a full-scale conflict against a small nation would be of limited use. As critical-minded citizens, we should question whether such large ticket items will necessarily lead to greater security for the US, and greater stability for the world.

    The whole story reminds me of the downfall of Sauron in Lord of the Rings. He had surrounded himself with the deepest layers of security against the prying eyes of powerful magic.Yet only in the last few moments, as two hobbits marched up Mount Doom, did he realize the futility of his decision...

  • I don't think they're necessarily reading too much into this -- the WP has generally been one of the more reasonable newspapers when it comes to military journalism.

    I'd presume that the journalists who wrote the article probably did a bit more research than just "reading into" the use of Red/Blue. Remember -- this was a military operation, so any official word (or even hint of an official word) that this involved China could provoke some seriously anti-diplomatic reaction from them (as it is, they're not terribly pleased with the US military after the Embassy carpet-combing incident)

    Having been involved in the journalism field, I'd guess that the reporter probably got very good word that they were indeed referring to China (from an unnamed source) but on the condition that it remained as vague as possible.

    (The reason they chose China probably has to do with the China / Taiwan interactions (i.e. tensions) -- though one could probably make a similar argument for Russia / every little guy they mess with.)


  • People never seem to miss the things they have until they're gone. The same thing applies here. You say the current programs have done nothing, and you're wrong. They've at least detered terrorists/commie bastards from firing missiles. You better believe that we'd be bombed/missiled off the face of this earth if we had no defenses as such.

    Also realize, often the best defense is a strong offense. (A strong defensive line won't do jack for you in a football game if your offensive line is a bunch of 90lb. wusses. That is, of course, under the assumption that those 90lb. wusses don't have tasers, but that's another story entirely.)


  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:33PM (#471689) Homepage
    I'll bet you could use a medium-powered laser to either vaporize or deorbit the junk (depending on size). You could clear out large areas and use them as launch windows.

    My bet, however, is that most of the debris would take care of itself in the span of a few years. The explosions from the weapons would likely push most of the mass out of it's designed orbit. Combine that with solar winds, atmospheric drag and other factors, and you'll be okay to go again pretty quick.


  • by Drake42 ( 4074 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:37PM (#471695) Homepage
    Some thoughts that no one else seems to have mentioned:

    No one in the game said "Red attacks Blue!" they said "Red attacks BROWN, who asks for help"
    Who is brown? Taiwan? Kuwait? India? Japan? I would say any of those countries and many others would be deserving of help if they had to ask for it.

    This BULLSHIT about war games being a waste of money is amazing. After humanitarian efforts, war games are the most important thing the peace-time military can do! If the military doesn't think, "what if?" how do you expect the military to plan a defense? Or are you the guys the ones who play CounterStike like it was DukeNukem, die immediately and leave me to try and get the job done while hopelessly outnumbered?

    AND ANOTHER THING! The military leadership doesn't give a fuck what the slashdot community thinks of their games any more they the community cares what military leaders thing of C++ vs C. The military leadership isn't qualified to comment on that any more that most of us are qualified to comment on intelligent use of military funds. If you want to post a contrary comment, excellent, but don't just bitch "That's Stupid" when you've thought about your response for less than .5 seconds. Even the military knows that war is a bad thing. On many of the air force hangers I've seen there are signs saying "Peace is our Profession". The military doesn't want to go to war. It wants to make sure that if YOUR ELECTED LEADERSHIP DECLARES WAR then we will win. Don't be pissed at the military about war or spending, be pissed at all the people who didn't vote in the last election and thus gave us W for a president.

    ALSO, if they don't care about you knowing why did they invite the press? So any potential enemies know we're studying space based combat and (hopefully) decide not to persue the idea with as much vigor as they might have if they thought we were completely unprepared. That's why you put big naval ships by a potential target. Just to remind a potential enemy that it's a lot less painful to be friends.

    Ok, that's enought venting for me. Sorry to all of you who think my comments are obvious.

  • World war 1 got started, partly because of such of a technical approach to war. As one description goes, everybody had troops set up and ready to go at a moment's notice ("just in case"). The intent wasn't really to start a war. It was to respond to 'the other side' either starting one or escalating.

    When things got going (with the assasination of the German chancellor, as I remember) , everybody reacted to everybody else's reaction (technical response only, of course) and -- by the time people realized what was going on -- a huge stack of troops was suddenly committed to battle/battlefield support.

    By that point, logistical pressures made war almost inevitable.

  • I think you dismiss ingenuity and creativity. Pin-point accuracy may be impossible (or unreasonably difficult). So? There's other ways to skin an ICBM: Sand cannons. Yeah, sounds lame, but the idea is pretty straightforward: fill the space where the rocket must fly with abrasive debris. On rentry, the missile's shielding ablates off and it burns up on the way in. Needs cheap lifting, but is technologically simple.

    No, it's not the best idea, there's lots of problems with it, but never assume something is impossible.

  • Ah, so what happens if [enemy] develops missile systems in orbit?

    Hence the need for killsats...

    or establishes missile launch sites in Central or South America? Or Cuba for that matter, which (if I remember correctly) would be able to get a missile over American soil before an anti-missile nuke could intercept it?

    Ever heard of the Cuban missile crisis? You guys went through a lot of crap before to avoid that scenario. I imagine you would go to great pains to prevent missile launch sites from being established there.
  • Cause it would involve them stopping the smoking of pot, putting the ferret back in the cage, turning off the Dave Matthews/Grateful Dead/Phish CD and learning something about science.

    It would also involve these people getting out and doing something productive, rather than whining at people who do.
  • Its too bad that war is the extension of politics, but its the truth. If you want to see war go away, first change human nature, then you'll be able to affect the necessary changes in the political arena to make it a non-viable extension of politics.

    There are no evil countries, but there are evil people. No one seriously thinks the Germans are evil, genocidal people. But face facts, the Nazi Party rose to power and killed a lot of people. The Russians weren't evil but Stalin's Purges killed a whole lot more people. Countries aren't evil but people sure are.

    This isn't about "my country is on the side of God and yours is a haven of godless commie scum". This is about people that see a way to create a future for their families and more importantly, their regimes. If the fathers of the nation, its leaders and those with the power, decide that its the only way to ensure that they can keep their phoney-baloney jobs (to quote Mel Brooks) then its what they'll do, and you're kidding yourself if quoting Ginsberg will stop it.

  • I am always amazed that people still believe the baloney you spout. First of all, the Soviets violated the ABM treaty before the ink was even dry. Secondly, the Soviet Union, which the treaty was signed with, no longer exists. Thirdly, the ABM treaty had a provision for unconditional withdrawal with a six-minth notice. The fact that we haven't yet withdrawn proves beyond any doubt that that we in the US are complete fools.

    By the way, if you want me to read any response, please email me. I don't have time to follow this nonsense.

  • You called the Taiwanese traitors.
    Finally, do you really want the US government telling those Japanese-wannabe traitors in Taiwan...
    Anybody who considers the Taiwanese to be traitors for desiring democracy and freedom is a jerk in my books. Also, what's wrong with wanting to be like Japan? You're the one who comes across as a xenophobic, racist, paranoid, communist-sympathizing asshole.

    I was merely trying to point out the hypocritical way most Americans go about treating China.

    For your information, I'm not American, nor do I live in the US. Fuck you for making that assumption.

    I normally try to be civil with people I disgree with, but you unjustly called me a racist, so you can burn in hell, asshole.
  • by fleener ( 140714 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @03:47PM (#471710)
    Why couldn't all of this weaponry be blasted out of commission by a radical pacifist organization heaving a hefty electromagnetic pulse?
  • but the only thing thats going to put weapons in space is the media hype. Seriously people..China will not want war any more than we do. The only reason that a war would ever break out is cause the US is gonna be asking for it. We have got to move past the Cold War. We will only live in peace if we are willing to believe that we are not the only one's that want peace.

    When you got the media virtually telling China "We don't trust you. We think you are going to attack us" what do the chinese have left but to live up to this misconception and put weapons to their disposal, perhaps only as a defensive move, but knowing the US it will "clearly" be an offensive.

    I am sick of word war. Sick of the idea that there are evil countries. Sick that the US itself is not truly willing to believe in peace.

    It is a sad sad thing. And I am only 19 years old. Good work, America. "Go fuck yourself with the Atom bomb," as Allen Ginsberg put it.

  • Or American...

    You do know that when Cuba 'nationalized' all industry ONLY American refused to accept the 'repayments' made by the Cuban Government to the foreign interests... America has had it 'in' for Cuba since...

  • When your mobile artillery piece relies on one technology to pick up the flashes of fire from your opponent's gun, and GPS to say "I know I'm here. I know the enemy's gun is there. If I point my gun in this direction and fire now, the enemy's gun goes bye-bye before he gets a second shot at me", you can win the war with a fraction of the manpower (and firepower) you used to need.

    This is a prime example of:
    If you know yourself,
    And you know your enemy,
    Then if you fight 100 battles,
    You will win 100 battles.
    --Sun Tzu, The Art of War


  • Why bother with such sophisticates like missiles and navigations when you can load up a ship with a good size nuke and park it next to NY. Drop off your suitcase nuke in the middle of a big city, etc.
  • 1: Pearl Harbor

    There is a substantial amount of data to conclude that the United States knew an attack was coming, but let it proceed in order to galvanize pro-war opinion in a country that wanted nothing to do with a conflict across an ocean.

    2: The Nazis Invade Russia

    The Nazis Invade France

    The United States was not involved directly in combat when either of these conflicts took place. In fact, there was a substantial pro-German constituency in the United States when the invasion of France was launched.

  • nah, I think you're thinking of Cmdr "wrongway" Peachfuzz. [] ;-)

    Damn unfortunate name for a career military guy, eh?

  • still

    blue = US
    red = China
    brown = Taiwan

    seems fairly plausible, doesn't it ?
  • If the USA is to have a hope, it , like the stag, must cultivate a spirit of self sacrifice among its civil service and citizens. It is the only way that America will get the resolve to win. The USA has done it before - lets see if it can do it again

    No, my dick is bigger than yours. Yeah yeah America! Yeah Yeah America! Whoo-Whoo-were #1-Were #1.

    Lets instead hope America dosnt go rushing off to display its supremecy and start a war with China. Lets instead hope America learns some self control and pulls back the reigns of Imperialism that the rest of the world has been trying to throw off for the last 50 years. Lets instead hope for a peacefull, sound, prosperous, healthy, vibrant, happy future - not to 'Start then Win' some fucking big-dick contest... do you think people in China dont care about the same things you do? The world is not about Nationality but about class. American Business & thier Mouthpieces spend alot of time pumping Yankees full of nationalistic propaganda so they never realize they are in the same boat as every other proletariat on the planet - 'the problems' relate to economic class, not birthplace.

  • > Sometimes the best victory is one in which you crush your opponent and convince him never to try
    > you again.

    WWI --> Treaty of Versailles, crushing the opponent --> WWII. Doesn't work.
  • by ahem ( 174666 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:11PM (#471740) Homepage Journal
    "We never really play space," Maj. Gen. William R. Looney III said. "The purpose of this game was to focus on how we really would act in space."

    Oh come on now! This has to be a pseudonym.

  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @04:01PM (#471742) Journal
    Anybody here remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre? A government that will kill its own citizens (many of them students--like most Slashdotters) is a government to be feared. Brown is obviously Taiwan. China has rattled its sabre at Taiwan a number of times already, so this scenario is entirely realistic. In case you think it wouldn't be worth interfering, consider that the Chinese military has publically discussed plans to neutron bomb Taiwan. How's that for fucking horrific? Do you want another holocaust?

    Some people here claim that a National Missile Defense (NMD) is technically infeasible. I agree that there are problems with the idea of kinetic-kill interceptors--it's very hard to hit a target moving at several times the speed of sound. What would be much more realistic is to use an interceptor with a very small, clean nuclear warhead. If you only have to get within 200 metres, things get a lot easier. I think that was the original plan back in the days of Star Wars, but it got killed (most likely for political reasons).

    As for space war, that's entirely realistic. Just consider how reliant on GPS, spy satellites, and sat-communication the US is, and how much of an advantage those capabilities give the US. Throughout history, wars have often been decided by intelligence and communication. Back in the earlier half of last millenium, battles were usually decided by the vanguards of the respective army. If your vanguard lost, you wouldn't know where the enemy was, and you would have no recon screen. The same principle applies even more strongly now.

    Hacker war? Definitely. The targets don't have to be military installations to cause severe damage. For instance, the US Army uses FedEx to transport spare parts a lot of the time. Messing with banks and financial institutions could also seriously affect the will and ability of the US to fight a war. Tom Clancy has already thought of a lot of this, although he usually blows the details when it comes to hi-tech.

    The warriors in the "hacker war" won't be your average script kiddies, and they won't be limited to the usual attacks. Lots of software development is done in foreign countries or by foreign immigrants, and, while the vast majority of these people are honest, it only takes a few to plant backdoors in dangerous places. These "enemy hackers" also don't have to be attacking from somewhere within country X--they could be within your own borders. It's worth noting that China uses a lot of open source software--maybe they're concerned about these kinds of vulnerabilities.

    Of course, even script kiddies can do serious damage, as Microsoft recently found out. Imagine what a few thousand script kiddies could do if given a year and co-ordinated planning... Biggest DDoS you've ever seen, coming from everywhere all at once... While that attack was causing general chaos, the true 1337 h4X0rs would do the real damage.

    It's nice to see that the Armed Forces have started thinking about all this.
  • Actually, nuclear weapons is a misnomer - they're really less weapons and better called deterrents. I believe the actual use of a nuclear weapon defeats the purpose - the threat of a thermonuclear device is far, far more influencial than the use of one.
  • Having been involved in a few myself, on the ground and at the keyboard, military simulations are created for two reasons. Sometimes a given situation covers both reasons, sometimes only one.

    1) To explore a new paradigm of potential conflict which may or may not actually manifest itself at some point in the future. The USAF simulation of satellite warfare is an example of such a simulation. We don't really know if there will ever be satellite combat, but the technology is moving in a direction that might make such combat possible in the future.

    2) To prepare for combat or other operations in a known conflict paradigm. The USMC conducting war games in San Francisco recently is a good example of this. Urban warfare happens all the time - Kuwait, Bosnia, Somalia, you name it. We know we'll at some point get involved in a fight in built up terrain somewhere, so we prepare for it.

    Now let's look at the role of the military. The US military's primary role is to defend US interests (the physical safety of the citizens of the United States, its economic interests, etc, depending on your political views, one could go on in many directions). The military does not decide when and where it fights. The government does.

    But when the government calls on the military to fight, it had better be ready to fight, or there will be calls of "damn, we pay them all that money, and they were caught by surprise!"

    Cases where simulation of type 1 followed by type 2 might have been helpful:

    1: Pearl Harbor ("nobody would ever try to attack Pearl, it's armed to the teeth!")

    2: The Nazis Invade Russia ("Comrade, those Germans are preoccupied with France and England. They won't be turning east for at least another couple of years!")

    3: The Nazis Invade France ("We have more heavy tanks than the Germans, and we have this fantastic Maginot Line!")

    There's nothing worse than saying, "Damn, we never thought that might happen!" as you bury your dead.

  • When your mobile artillery piece relies on one technology to pick up the flashes of fire from your opponent's gun, and GPS to say "I know I'm here. I know the enemy's gun is there. If I point my gun in this direction and fire now, the enemy's gun goes bye-bye before he gets a second shot at me", you can win the war with a fraction of the manpower (and firepower) you used to need.

    US Artillery doctrine uses human beings as forward observers to direct fire. yes it helps to know where you are (you need to counter coriolis force), but FR GRID (map grid coords) mission are generally not as common as FR POLAR (polar coords - fire bearing 325 range 10000 meters) or FR LASER (same thing, but using a laser rangefinder), so knowing where you are exactly isn't quite as necessary.

  • While I sometimes question the accuracy of Ananova, they are reporting [] that Iraq has two nuclear weapons at their disposal. The rules are changing. We can basically bomb a nation (Iraq) into the stone age, and somehow a few years later they have the bomb. Security is not what it used to be. Everything is a threat. I'm glad the military is looking at how technology can be used in the future of wargames. The more and more simulations they do the better prepared we can be for situations like this. And it seems only fair to assume that we would eventually have to have a 'space-corps', as the space installations of the future will have as much stratigic importance then our factories and military installations do here on Earth.
  • In regards to [2], who said that only US-run simulations were of relevance, or that only benefit to the United States was important?
  • I agree with you on several of your latter points, but i'm afraid i must denounce you as historically blind in this particular statement. America has used exactly these tactics to attain its current position - namely mass slaughter of japanese civilians without warning. Two cities were gutted. Why were those millions killed?

    You're wrong here in so many respects, but that's not really your fault. There's been a lot of historical revisionism surrounding the dropping of the bombs on Japan.

    First of all, there was warning. The US air-dropped leaflets telling citizens of Hiroshima to leave before they dropped the bomb. Most people chose to ignore their warning. There was also a substantial window of time between the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb and the dropping of the Nagasaki bomb, in which Japan could have surrendured (and yet, they didn't--in fact, the Japanese war council wanted to continue even after the second bomb). The number killed by the bombs was closer to 200,000 than millions. A lot of people, yes, but far, far less than the millions of casualties (civilians and soldiers) predicted in the event of an invasion of Japan. Don't forget that the Japanese started the war with the US via a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Had the US not invaded and occupied Japan, it is highly unlikely Japan would be as succesful as it is today.

    It's amazing that a nation threatening to exercise those same methods is then labeled a monster. Hypocrisy in action.

    The situations are vastly different. Taiwan hasn't tried to pick a war with China, for one. The US wasn't on a war of aggressive expansionism.

    Also, they've been trying for a couple of decades now for something that will take out hostile missiles, surpise attack or otherwise. I hate to break it to you, but these people are most likely a lot smarter than either of us and have probably put this idea to the test.

    So, because the idea was technically infeasible in the past, it must be impossible? What a ridiculous concept. The technology available to build such a defense system has dramatically improved.
  • It's just that your comment about all immigrants being potential traitors struck a nerve in me as I (though an American citizen) find that I will not be able safely to pursue a scientific career in NASA because of my ethnic background. As I saw with Wen Ho Lee, if you are Chinese, then the US government will treat you as a traitor.

    It was not the intention of my comment to characterize all foreigners as potential traitors. I was merely commenting on the reality of the situation, which is that there are probably one or two traitors who will (or already have) put backdoors into commercial software. The solution to this is [karma whoring mode]open source software[/karma whoring mode], not a witch hunt. I think what happened to Wen Ho Lee was more a feature of the past administration (which, IMHO, was quite corrupt) than of American attitudes in general. My personal (completely unsubstantiated) conspiracy theory is that Wen Ho Lee was a fall guy for what really happened--the "sale" (for campaign contributions) of American nuclear technology to the PRC. Hurting innocent people never appeared to bother Clinton too much...

    Having lived in Canada and not the US, I can't comment on the racial situation down there, but I suspect the situation in Canada is similar. I live in Vancouver, BC, and I see extremely high racial tolerance. Some of my university classes are composed predominantly non-white minority groups, and there's really never any problems. One of my friends (from Singapore and of Indian decent, I believe) has appied for a job with the CSE, the Canadian equivalent of the NSA. He's made it past the first round of interviews, and I think he's got a good shot at the job. The job, by the way, entails a level III Top Secret security clearance, the highest level in the Canadian government. Race simply isn't an issue here. Just to give you an idea of how multi-cultural things are, one of my roommates is Chinese, one is German, one is French, and then there's me (and I'm Canadian-English-Scottish-German-American-French-C anadian-Italian-Native-American-and-God-knows-what -else). We all get along fine. Heck, half my friends aren't white (that hadn't even occurred to me until just now).

    Perhaps this makes it hard for me to conceive of systemic racism like what you're describing. The few times I have witnessed racism, it's just as often directed against white people as non-white minorities. Maybe things are different in the US--I don't know.

    I will not suggest that the author isn't biased (though you should pay attention to the his biography on the right column). However, it will give you a perspective on Chinese-Taiwanese relations that is not presented in Western media. It certainly had a huge impact on my view of things after I read the essays.

    It was interesting, although it was short on facts. Most of the references were to other articles on the same site, by the same person, or within a small clique of sites. It's quite possible it's all true and that we've all been fed Western propaganda, and it's also possible that the article is PRC propaganda. Without extensive research, it's impossible to say. There was a strong anti-Japanese sentiment running through the article, which made me suspicious. Playing off underlying racial tensions is a classic tactic for manipulating the populace... I also consider a somewhat corrupt democracy to be better than no democracy at all...

    Third of all, as for why I oppose SDI, consider that in an arms race, you can do two things 1) Make your own weapons work better or 2) Make your enemy's weapons work worse. Both courses of actions will escalate tensions.

    The unfortunate truth is that the United States is already in an arms race with the PRC. The PRC currently has at least a dozen nuclear warheads targeted at US cities. The arms race has begun, and now the US is trying to win it. They won before against the Soviet Union by outspending them, and they hope to do it again against the PRC.
  • hate all us "Anglo

    Not true - they dont 'hate' us. I know plenty of Quebecois and none have said "I hate you because you speak English". There is not racist crap like that going on.

    There are people in Quebec who feel that Quebec would be better off independant. That may or may not be true. But Canada is a tolerant culture that values real democracy - it is our duty to listen and discuss the concerns of the Quebecois, this 'English Backlash' you display is childish and ignorant. Would you prefer we start an armed conflict and have people start riots in the streets?

    Quebec Nationalism, in some strange ways, is a testement to the strenght of Canada. Where else do you see people discussing real political ideals in a respectfull and mature manner? Where else do you see people using the strenghts of democracy to make political change?

    In the end, Quebec will not seperate - and it will be a great stunning victory for all Canadians. Maybe the rest of Canada should listen to the Quebecois to understand what they desire instead of acting gruff and cynical.

  • I wonder (and this one is pretty odd):

    If the blue team plans encompass their attacking the computers of Red, and the opposition, have the considered the possibility of non-military forces (called the Light Blue and Pink) trying to be patriotic and aiding their military by arranging their own private attacks in un-planned support?

    Imagine: a Light Blue script kiddie attacks an important node in Red's system. Red take this a sign of aggression and retaliate. Blue are then forced to respond to a reponse for a trigger they did not personally pull.

    Alternatively, the attack could come from Green, someone who wasn't involved in the Red/Blue conflict, who has no particular favouritism. In the initial stages of an intrusion it can be difficult to tell the source of the damage.

    Plus with the US reliance on commercial carriers (in the case of space access) one wonders about their dependence on IP carriers. Can I damage the enemy by destroying or deactivating a HUB (MAE or similar spring to mind)?

  • Seeing this article was just horribly depressing.

    Oh goody, our space weapons will beat their space weapons. How about no damn space weapons at all? We do not need another arms race, but that is exactly where stuff like this is heading. How about we try to work for a lasting peace agreement with China et all and work for a function global society? hrmph...
  • It seems unrealistic to me that a microsatellite would be carrying enough fuel to be manueverable enough to actually block the view of another satellite.

    Using radiation to "fry" the electronics seems much more plausible, as a burst weapon could be charged from solar collectors.
  • Whoa - that's stunningly appropriate considering the Star Trek (original series) that was just on SciFi - it's the one where there are two planets, Eminiar and Vendikar, who wage war through computer simulations, and the 'casualties' are cleanly disposed of in disintegration chambers...
  • No matter how fanatical an untrained and unarmed person is, he is not going to be able to defeat a fully armed and trained army, that's just preposterous.

    Well, kind of. The unarmed person can be part of a wave attack, the person in the front gets a rifle, when killed the guy behind him grabs it up and continues on.

    I beleve the Russians had to do that in some WW2 battles.

    There were also the woefully under-armed folks who found one of the USA Libberator45 drops, a single fire 45 pistol GM made two a minute at the height of production. It came with an instruction comic book that showed how to sneek up behind a lone german and shoot him in the back, and then take their much better gun/rifle.

    Fanatisam is a force multiplyer. So is training. So is equiptment. If you had a shotgun, and 1000 people who wanted to kill you had nothing but sticks, I'm pretty sure your going to die. You'll be able to kill a lot more of them then they will of you, but they can rush you in great enough numbers that you won't be able to reload fast enough.

  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Monday January 29, 2001 @09:14PM (#471780)
    Unfortunetely, one country cutting its military will not stop war. It will cause that country to lose them, though.

    Nobody -- including every officer of the military I've met -- likes war. However, wars are at times necessary and appropriate.

    Do you really think the world would be a better place right now if the Americans and British had been unarmed during that "brutal first 65 years"?
  • Oh, I see. Any news organization that isn't an arm of the Democratic Party (i.e. is not CNN, ABC, NBC, etc.) should be summarily dismissed as wacky kooks making wily allegations of so-called news.

    liberal news orgs == gospel truth
    conservative/libertarian news orgs == lies and fabrications

    Gotcha! Thanks.

  • almost certainly China or Russia

    Dont forget those wily Peruvians. They dress funny. They dont wear any deodorant. And they only have ONE! McDonalds!!!, even that is only there for the US Military base.... lets not forget about them... next thing you know they will be Godless Commies(TM)

  • "Je suis le Québec, et je considère cette conversation un travesty! Naturellement nous sommes meilleurs, vous les porcs d'expression anglaise! Vive les crossants!"

    Words from the horse's mouth, provided by Babelfish.

  • Science fiction, by Poul Andersson, called "Kings for sacrifice", when nations agreed to battle in space instead of scorching Earth.

    Or "Fury" by Henry Kuttner, when battles were performed outside of the living space not to damage it.

    I know, it's too early for that kind of technological advances for all warryng states, but it's nevertheless an option for the future, unless humankind will learn how to control its aggression (let only ones who never flipped off a sucker who cuts you off or blocks the left lane throw a stone at me ;-)))
  • The point of war is to secure the acquiescence of your opposition. Killing the opposing legion's fighters is just the first and most basic way of doing that.
  • What amazes me is that in all 200 of these posts virtually no-one thinks this hole idea is bullocks.

    Doesnt anyone think the better answer is peace?

    Does any American really think they have to 'defend' themselves from someone else? Let me tell you if you are American: The rest of the world thinks America is the most Militarized Aggressor on the planet. Bar None. I would hope more Americans would be objective about the desire to build more weapons. Didnt anyone tell you people would prefer prosperity, happiness and peace vs war? Why would America (and Americans) so consistently decide to extend and prolong the brutal first 65 years of the 20th century... cant we fucking move on?

  • And Nuclear weapons are dieing. States are now so used to Nuclear weapons, that it is taken as read they will never be used. Every state has become rational and technological in this regard by definition - otherwise they would be unable to develop Nuclear weapons at all.

    We are seeing the next paradigm in weaponary. States are developing high tech conventional weapons that will operate in space and be able to strike out opponents hardware in small brushfire wars. There will never be a WWIII. If the US were to take on China, they would instead test each other, like rutting stags, without going the whole hog and destroying each other.

    In any war, the contestants are trying to determine who's vision of freedom will prevail. In the case of USA V China, the Stags may well clash, but it is the most determined, the most suicidal of the two that will win, just as in real life. I very much fear that America has become weakened, in terms of its resolve I must stress, whereas the automatons of China will be able to behave in the brutal fashion required to win the contest. If the USA is to have a hope, it , like the stag, must cultivate a spirit of self sacrifice among its civil service and citizens.

    It is the only way that America will get the resolve to win. The USA has done it before - lets see if it can do it again.

    You know exactly what to do-
    Your kiss, your fingers on my thigh-

  • Actually, I am aware of what happened at Ruby Ridge. Yes, it was horrible, especially how the Feds basically lured out the kid by shooting his dog. Just not as horrible as sending a division of tanks and infantry to massacre students peacefully protesting for democracy, then lying about it and supressing any attempts to protest against the massacre.

    My mention of the Weavers having guns was meant to imply that they at least had the honour of having some remote fighting chance, not that they deserved to be shot for having guns. Believe me, I do understand why the second amendment is important...
  • Yeah, and the US also 'knew' that we would have moon bases by now. They also 'knew' that computers would never get any smaller. I personally think that it's sad that in the US at least, technology is pushed by military...I know that's not entirely true, but often in history the civilians got the stuff after the military. It would be good for commercial space travel, which is sad that to get this we have to be at 'war' with another nation. We need to create peace on Earth before we can ever hope to reach the stars.
  • > Just take a look at WWII itself; Germany, Italy, and Japan were all thoroughly crushed and
    > have not been at all eager to fight anyone since.

    I think you're seriously misguided as to why Germany or Japan haven't fought anyone again. Besides, the type of "crushing" you are referring to is commonly known as annihilation and is really the only effective means of accomplishing what you're suggesting. No country could indulge in that while still calling itself democratic or humane.

  • "If you want to teach a baby a lesson, would you cut off its head? [...] Of course not. You'd paddle it. There can be circumstances when it's just as foolish to hit an enemy with an H-bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an ax. War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want him to do. Not killing...but controlled and purposeful violence. But it's not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It's never a soldier's business to decide when or where or how --- or why --- he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much, the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people --- 'older and wiser heads,' as they say --- supply the control. Which is as it should be."

    "We are the boys who go to a particular place, at H-hour, occupy a designated terrain, stand on it, dig the enemy out of their holes, force them then and there to surrender or die."

    - Heinlein (Starship Troopers 1959).

  • unless your American apparently... in which case China's actions are the result of being evil godless commies, where Kent State was an accident, fluke or justified.

  • Agreed, but then I'm not in the US either. I find it curious to see that every followup so far is (a) from the US, and and (b) in favour of military escalation.

    "But what about the rogue countries?" This isn't a small rogue country we're talking about--it's the fourth vs. the third largest country in the world. In other words, BIG war.

    "Peace will never happen." I'm afraid I tend to agree with this, but proactive escalation can't be the answer!

    Even those who don't exactly agree with it say, "The US should only get involved where their interests are at stake." Like Cuba? Like Iraq? The US (or anyone) bombing countries into the ground over their own oil or political issues is fairly reprehensible.

    But then again, they voted for Bush jr.

  • There hasn't been a US war worth fighting in aeons now, and I can't see there being a worthwhile one in the future. My generation stormed the beaches at Normandy but decided to prop up Nazi West Germany after the war. Hmph, no one asked me, I tell you.

    You know, I laughed when I saw kids burning their draft cards in the sixties. Sometimes, I did more than laugh. Sometimes I hurled insults, fists, and even other stuff at them. Damn pipsqueaks didn't know what it meant to bleed for your country. For my country. Jimmy's never coming back, but these kids got to smoke their pot and shrooms and bras and whatever else they could fit in their pipes and mouths. It made me sick.

    But not every war is worth fighting like 'Nam was. I'll even admit, 'Nam had its problems, and they weren't problems you could sweep under the front-porch's rug, neither. Deep issues, but I wonder whether those kids were right, now. I'd hate to learn something from someone half my age, but I have a closed mind, sometimes. It's not just that we had it better back then. Stuff was more real. You could taste your fried eggs on toast, and you didn't have to have someone slice your meat for you. I'll even let you in on a secret: the world wasn't black and white back then, no matter what those Hollywood films try to tell you. It's all lies and serpents.

    Why should we fight China? What does China have to offer in conquest that we can't already obtain by getting them to immigrate? We already build better domestic Chinese food than they've got.
  • And if replacing each of those $1M Tomahawks gives one of your bosses campaign contributors $200K then all the better.

    Yep, the Republicans are back.

  • I always find it fascinating, talking to Taiwanese folks about the situation back home. In the mid-'90s, do you remember the "situation" in the Taiwan Strait? China was running some wargames, testing missiles, and generally being an aggressive pain in the ass. I knew a Taiwanese girl in school, and I talked to her about the situation. She told me that most Taiwanese think it is only a matter of time before China tries to take the ROC by military force. During the "crisis" in the mid-'90s, they didn't think the time had come -- but they seem to think it is inevitable at some point.

    One of the finest Americans I know is a Taiwanese immigrant. He runs my local gun store. It's the classic immigrant-makes-good story. The store is open every day but Sunday -- including all holidays. "On American holidays, I am Taiwanese," he'd say. "And on Taiwanese holidays, I am American. Always open." Love that guy.
  • If I kept intentionaly crashing my car into yours and you did the same, don't you think we'd fast realize that we're both wasting one another's money in fixing our cars and agree to stop?

    Sure, unless I have more cars (or repair money) then you, and am willing to spend it to keep you the hell off the street.

    You can win a war of equal exchanges, or even losing more money/men/whatever then the oponent on each exchange. You "just" need to be very determined and/or well funded.

    Look at the USA WW2 tanks. They couldn't even hurt the German Tiger tanks unless they got a shot to their back, but we had so many of the damm things we beat them anyway.

    Look at the Vietnam war. We killed more of them then they killed of us. Buy a fairly wide margin even. But we wern't willing to keep dieing to win, and they were. We lost.

    I suggest that the higher-ups in the military that plan this read some of Isaac Asimov's work - he wrote a good one about something like this.

    He has written a lot of good fiction, but I'm not sure how much is relivant to forming military doctrine. "A Letter Home" was really entertaining, but we wouldn't have won the Gulf War (or at least not with as little loss of our lives as there was) if we had payed any real attention to it.

  • by Big Brass Balls ( 257794 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:19PM (#471835) Homepage
    Actually, the point of war is to put your enemy in a position such that they say "uncle", yet causing the least amount of casualties.

    I think it's in Sun Tzu's The Art of War - the best wars are the ones that are not fought. Intimidating the enemy into submission without fighting is the highest level of strategy. If there is to be fighting, a battle that is quickly and efficiently fought is better than one that is drawn out. The worst kind of war (according to TAW is one that is long and causes many deaths.


  • Quebecers are very nice to Americans, but they hate us "Anglo" Canadians. Everybody will be better off if you invade them...

    Hell, Maxim even did an article recently on how great Montreal is.
  • Which are conjectured to merely have separated the 2 teams so you could tell them apart. You have to do that to run a drill... Pretty common, and some pretty outlandish drills are pretty common. I wouldn't wager that we are betting that this is the martian army, china, or even a mountain militia.

  • Yeah, maybe FASA would like to make something out of this idea. Oh, right... forget it.

    We thieves, we liars, we vandals, and poets. Networked agents of Cthulhu Borealis.

  • Yeah, diversity sucks, so hard to cope with.

    It's not the diversity, it's the fact that they demand special treatment, and whine when they don't get it. Then there's the fact that they hate all us "Anglo" Canadians... We've tried to accomodate them, and it just doesn't work. Your turn now :-)
  • "I hate to use the word 'paradigm,' but mind-set changes are happening here," added Maj. George Vogen, who helped run the game. "This is the next step in seeing the growth of space into its own right."

    So now growth in any field is measured by how much it can be militarised? *sigh*

    I understand that this guy IS a Major, and this comment WAS in the context of wargames, but I still think that the mindset holds true in a much wider realm, and that's a bad think in my mind.

  • The problem is that Nuclear weapons lose a lot of effectiveness when detonated on the ground. If you want a truely devistating explosion, you need to get the nuke up in the air (in a small plane perhaps).

    Right now I think the big thing that is saving us is that it is rather hard and dangerous to manufacture a WMD. For instance:
    1. Nuclear weapons: Require refined radioactive elements. Hard to acquire and dangerous to handle. The actual device has to be reasonably precisely machined, and is most likely suspicious looking on an X-Ray machine, making it harder to get in the country.
    2. Chemical Weapons: Very dangerous to manufacture the really good ones, and the safer ones don't have quite the same effectiveness. Also, delivery turns out to be difficult, as you have to both spread the gas over a large area, and optimally not kill yourself. The attack on a Japanese Subway a few years back is a good example of this, not all that many people died in that attack (only a handful, and most of them were the people trying to pop open the simple plastic bags with umbrellas IIRC).
    3. Biological: Heiniously dangerous to manufacture, since you have to grow and harvest a deadly bacteria or virus without getting infected yourself. Spreading isn't quite as much of a problem as it is for chemical weapons, as people will tend to pass it on to other people (if the infection is contagious).

    Many of these problem can be overcome with good funding and facilites (Chemcial and Parmecutical plants for instance), but this generally requires government intervention, which makes the attack a possible liability for the government in question. If the Secret Service tracks down the source of a nerve gas attack to government sponsered terrorism, then you had better belive that the goverment will be in hot water, not just with the US, but with the entire UN and many other groups that are opposed to the use of WMD on civilian targets. Worse, if the US decides to attack your country, you can bet there will be public support for the action (historically one of the weakest links in the US military has been public opinion).
  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @10:50PM (#471865) Journal
    I half-agree with you. The US is constantly getting grief for anything remotely military it does. They should go back to a bit more of an isolationist stance, and only meddle when either their own interests are directly at stake, or their allies are threatened and ask for help.

    Where I disagree with you is on disarmament. I'm a firm believer in peace through strength. Consider two scenarios:

    A) If you attack the US, they will retaliate by telling you you're a bad man, and asking you to stop in a real nice way.

    B) If you attack the US, you will be instantly disintegrated by airborne lasers, and have your molecules turned into interstellar spam.

    Under which scenario do you think people are more likely to screw with the US?

    The Libertarian (as in the party) view on this matter is to build up defensive capabilities (including a National Missile Defense), and stop pissing off other countries by meddling. If they screw with the US, their leaders find a TLAM-C cruise missile flying down their chimney. Otherwise, they're free to do whatever they want.

    Sometimes violence is unavoidable, and the most humane approach is to end it as swiftly as possible through overwhelming force. Other times, that large force will act as a deterrant and prevent conflict in the first place. Don't be another Neville Chamberlain...
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:22PM (#471869)
    >the whole point of war is _not_ to blow up your enemies' toys, but to kill the opposing legion's fighters.

    And since US doctrine (since the Gulf War and on to the present) appears to be based on the use of technology as a force multiplier, the way to kill lots of Americans is to blow up their toys in the sky.

    When your mobile artillery piece relies on one technology to pick up the flashes of fire from your opponent's gun, and GPS to say "I know I'm here. I know the enemy's gun is there. If I point my gun in this direction and fire now, the enemy's gun goes bye-bye before he gets a second shot at me", you can win the war with a fraction of the manpower (and firepower) you used to need.

    But you only get to win if your opponent can't blind your spysat/UAV, or your GPS satellite. Once your space network goes down, you're as blind as a bat, and outgunned two-to-one.

    Control of space is vital to warfighting today. Ask any Iraqi artilleryman... if any survived.

  • by BSDevil ( 301159 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:24PM (#471892) Journal
    Gee...what a surprise that "Blue" has a national missle defense program. What a coincidence that one of those is exactly what that fool Rumsfeld and his master want to install. The one bit that gives me hope is that "Red" found a fairly easy way to eliminate its usefullness. Maybe this will cause B&R to think again about the usefulness of such a system.

    Also, in time of war, would the commercial satellite operators really say no to "Red" using their systems, if the contract said so? I just get a feeling that the "Blue" government would provide some sort of incentive/threat to get their domestic commercial sats not to carry "Red" traffic.

    And come on, we're not in the Cold War anymore. The commies arn't going to come and invade, and the Brits won't need any saving. Get some new bloody colors...


  • by griffjon ( 14945 ) <> on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:25PM (#471898) Homepage Journal
    All those itanium satellites have found a new role as the suicide bombers of the 21st century. We'll just start changing their orbits to collide with enemy sats (or de-orbiting them into the enemey's nation...)

    (that's not supposed to be serious. I'm sure the future will prove it otherwise)

  • I worked for the Construction Engineering Research Lab [] for a couple of years, and I must say I agree. The lab had a number of projects going on about simulating battle situations (movements of units, use of terrain, and so forth, largely aimed at understanding the environmental impact of the maneuvers). Unforunately, it seems the projects are all years away from being able to simulate current war conditions. The models are generally primitive and run on legacy systems, despite being under active development. I think you're absolutely correct in saying these simulations are aimed at finding a general course for military R&D, and not intended to accurately represent the future of combat. (I know the simulations that CERL does are quite different from what this article is talking about, but i think the analogy is quite relevant.)
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:29PM (#471934)
    How wrong you are.

    The US currently dominates outer space (at least earth orbit) The recon satellietes that the Air Force and CIA operate allow us to observe our friends and enemies from afar, day or night. These 'birds' are impervious to any weapon currently deployed.

    A little less than a century ago a similar situation existed over France. British, French and German recon planes circled over the battlefield of the western front, directing artillery fire and providing intelligence about troops movements and such.

    The response to these recon planes was... fighter planes to chase them off! Then someone realized that you could shoot stuff on the ground with an airplane, so the bomber was born.

    When the US and China fight in 20 years, the same thing will happen with spacecraft.

    Before you laugh at this, think about the nature of war. What is more valuable, 50,000 soldiers standing in the wrong place or 5,000 soldiers who know exactly where the targets are, thanks to the 'eye in the sky'?
  • by Software Cowboy ( 9112 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:30PM (#471945)
    China vs. US? Actually red vs. blue has been used forever by the US military. Blue forces are always "good guys" and red forces are always "bad guys". It could be China, it could be Russia, it could be anyone.

    I think the Washington Post is reading WAY too much into this (but if it gets you to view their web site, I'm sure they don't care)....
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:38PM (#472006)
    > [ the simulation models are based on lots of guesswork, but have value because they ] can help guide current weapons development to lead us away from situations that are expensive and unfruitful.


    Many /.ers would be the first to recognize that a $1M/year web server doing the work of 10 $20K/year customer service reps is a good investment. Yes, it costs five times as much in the first year - but it scales to handle larger capacity, and frees up those 10 people to do more useful work elsewhere in the economy.

    Any /.er who recognizes the impact of the web to bring a "big presence" to a small business, yet considers the US' current emphasis on the use of technology as a force multiplier to be "a waste of money", should rethink their assumptions.

    If a Tomahawk costs $1M, the fact that conventional bombs "could have gotten the job done for $10K per target, even if it takes two or three tries" is irrelevant if the target is right.

    Were I a commander, I'd gladly pay $50M for a barrage of Tomahawks to waste the enemy's SAM sites and airbases in the first hour of a campaign. The Tomahawks are cheap - and after I launch 'em, my expensive pilots and aircraft are then free to concentrate on blowing up the enemy's now-defenceless tanks sitting on the ground with neither SAM nor air cover.

    Finally - and this is both important from a "PR" view and a morale view - as a result of my up-front investment in $50M worth of hardware greatly increases the odds that my pilots and my ground troops get to come home when the war's over.

    I can easily buy $50M worth of cruise missiles when the war ends. But I can't buy replacements for my trained troops without years of training. And I can't buy increased morale for any price.

  • by The Blackrat ( 255469 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @02:38PM (#472010)
    is to assert certain political and/or economic conditions upon your enemy(s). Many times in history, so called 'peripheral battles' were decisive in affecting the overall progress of the war. An example, in ww2, Axis submarines and submarine tenders roamed freely in the southern atlantic, from where they could inflict masive losses in the south atlantic itself, or sortie up to the caribbean and have some fun there. It was not until late 1942 that the Allies placed a single squadron of long range aircraft and a few small escort vessels in Brazil. This tiny force wiped out the Axis threat in the southern atlantic, which never amounted to more then 5-8 submarines and maybe a surface raider or tender. The point of the battle in space is similiar. In and of itself, space has no value. But denying use of it to ones enemy is of paramount importance because of the nasty things that can be done from space. (Spying, communications, lobbing the odd weapon earthward). Even if the chinese only manage to get one or two 'killsats' into space, it is imperitave we dedicate superior resources to secure the use of space for the US and our allies. I dunno if we actually have any allies left though, except Great Britian ;)
  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @04:13PM (#472031) Journal
    Despite the occasional whining, I think Canada generally still likes the US. Granted, it would have been nice if you could have spared us the month of crap about your election, but that's water under the bridge...

    If you really want us to like you, invade Quebec. Please. And take Celine Dion. Oh, and could you bring some Cherry Coke with you? It's impossible to get up here, and that Wild Cherry Pepsi is shit. Also, would you mind getting California to pay us for all the electricity we gave them? Now that I think about it, I could use some good Mexican food... Maybe California can pay us back in tamales...

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith